Archive for May, 2014

Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” by David Hume

May 28, 2014

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BOOK REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY:

Editor’s Note: Roy E. Perry, the self-described “amateur philosopher of Nolensville,” wrote book reviews for “The Tennessean” and “Nashville Banner” for thirty years. He is a regular contributor to “Underground Nashville.”

Rene Descartes (1596-1650), “the father of modern philosophy,” was a rationalist who attempted to attain certainty by discovering “first principles” on which he could establish absolute truth. He believed that by reason alone (human understanding) he could “prove” the existence of God and the immortality of the soul.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was trained in the rationalist tradition, but when he read David Hume’s work, the impact shattered his way of thinking. In the preface to his ‘Prolegomenon,’ Kant stated that reading Hume woke him from his “dogmatic slumbers.” If Hume was right, then metaphysics, as Kant had previously believed it, was impossible, nothing but “sophistry and illusion.” In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant wrote, “I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge [that is, reason and human understanding] in order to make room for faith.”

An empiricist and skeptic, David Hume (1711-1776) was born and died in Edinburgh, Scotland. His magnum opus, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), like Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781), is one of the key texts of the 18th-century Enlightenment. Taking a dim view of miracles, mysticism, and metaphysics, Hume skeptically asserted that empirical proofs of religion (such as the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and an afterlife) are not possible. In effect, he was saying (to paraphrase Kant), “I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge [that is, reason and human understanding] in order to make room for lack of faith [that is, for skepticism and unbelief].”

In the famous last paragraph of his Enquiry, Hume writes: “When we run over libraries, persuaded of these [empirical and skeptical] principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume: of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask: Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and experience? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

Hume clarifies the terms “a priori” (deduction) and “a posteriori” (induction). Deductive reasoning is done “before experience,” such as speculating on how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. Inductive reasoning is done “after experience”; it is the scientific method (forming hypotheses, performing experiments, and observing phenomena). The former process, “abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number” (as in mathematics and geometry), produces certainty. The latter reasoning process produces, at best, only strong probability, based as it is on the assumption of “the uniformity of nature” (that the universe will be the same in the future as it is in the present). Therefore, Hume’s “empiricism” is qualified by its open-ended character.

Hume’s “skepticism” is also qualified. Although technically, Pyrrhonism (or excessive skepticism) cannot be philosophically disproven, Hume recommends the practicality of a “mitigated” or moderate skepticism that acknowledges the importance of common sense and common life.

Hume’s Enquiry is, one might quip, not an easy work for our “human understanding” to grasp. This is especially true of his erudite, but daunting, explications of cause and effect. Another challenging chapter deals with the ages-old dispute between determinism and free will. His controversial and provocative essay, “Of Miracles,” caused howls of protest from those accusing him of atheism, and caused him to be forever excluded from a professional academic career.

The Clarendon Critical Edition of Hume’s Enquiry is recommended. It contains a substantial (55-page) introduction by the editor (Tom L. Beauchamp, Professor of Philosophy at GeorgetownUniversity), who explains the intellectual background to the work and surveys its main themes. This edition also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings.

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

************
Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

 

Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

May 21, 2014

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BOOK REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY

Donna Louise Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The judges described this 771-page novel, which took Tartt eleven years to write, as “a beautifully written coming-of-age novel with exquisitely drawn characters.”

At the heart of Tartt’s novel is an eponymous painting, “The Goldfinch” (oil on canvas, 1654) by Carel Fabritius (1622-1654). This Dutch masterpiece, which shows a goldfinch tethered to its perch by a chain on its ankle, is now worth millions of dollars. Shortly after he completed the painting, Fabritius was killed in an explosion in a powder factory in the city of Delft, the Netherlands.

Flash forward three and a half centuries . . . Another explosion destroys a large section of New York City’s MetropolitanArt museum, killing the mother of thirteen-year-old Theo Decker. Traumatized by the death of his mother, whom he dearly loved and who dearly loved him, Theo staggers through the fire and smoke, chaos and debris, of the shattered building, but not before a mortally wounded antiques dealer places in his hands an expensive ring and the rare, world-class museum piece, “The Goldfinch.”

A central theme of this novel is an oxymoronic concept: “the randomness of fate.” An accidental 17th-century “cause” has uncanny connections with 21st-century “effects.” Chance occurrences shape one’s destiny. The story moves from New York City, to Las Vegas, back to New York City, and on to Amsterdam. Haunted by memories of his mother, Theo becomes—as an art thief, in danger of prison—a fugitive, seeking to elude Interpol. Moreover, his life is threatened by minions of the criminal underworld peopled by art thieves and drug dealers.

Theo develops a dark, nihilistic perspective of life: “an unsettling sense of transience and doom”; “the absurdity of human affairs”; “groundlessness and flux, nothing to hang on to”; “chaos and uncertainty of the world we live in”; “the darkness of nothingness.” “All human activity seemed pointless, incomprehensible, some blackly swarming ant hill in the wilderness. . . . For humans—trapped in biology—there was no mercy: we lived for a while, we fussed around for a bit and died, we rotted in the ground like garbage. Time destroyed us all soon enough.”

For readers with a philosophical bent, The Goldfinch provides many such metaphysical and existential musings. Donna Tartt is not only a high-echelon literary artist and stylist, but also a provocative philosopher and psychologist. She challenges us to ponder questions such as: (1) Do our lives, and the existence of the universe, have any pattern, plan, meaning, purpose, or goal? (2) Are truth, goodness, and beauty merely relative—artificial, arbitrary prejudices constructed by our own conceits? Apparently, the answer to the first question is no; the answer to the second question is yes. It’s a gloomy world-view: Life is short. Death is sure. Period.

How can one cope with, and overcome, such debilitating nihilism? What antidote can be found for such skeptical doubt and pessimistic despair? Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch suggests Nietzsche’s answer: “It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified. We have art in order not to die from the truth.”

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

************
Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

 

 

Robin Ruddy releases delightful, empowering self-help book

May 12, 2014

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by Dave Carew

If you don’t know who Robin Ruddy is, you probably haven’t kicked around Nashville too long. Long associated with the celebrated Girls with Guitars concerts and a huge array of other Music City events, Robin is an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist who has toured twenty-six countries with artists such as Rod Stewart, Shania Twain, Ray Stevens, and Lynn Anderson.

A person like Robin would seem to be living her dreams. So how did she do it? And how can YOU do it? If you’re feeling despondent . . . or frustrated with your life . . . or “stuck in a rut” that has little or nothing to do with the life you WANT to live . . . how can you break free and achieve your most precious dreams?

An excellent starting point would be to run out and grab a copy of Robin Ruddy’s charming new self-help book Coconuggets: 10 Secrets to Success in a Coconut Shell. By sharing the delightful story of Tarry the tortoise . . . and of his journey from Confusion Island to Prosperity Island . . . Robin shares 10 rich life-lessons that can help ANYONE build a more prosperous life (according to YOUR definition of prosperity for YOUR life).

There are few books you can read in about an hour and get a “take-away benefit” that can enrich the entire rest of your life. This is one of them. Coconuggets is highly recommended for everyone with a dream, who needs a great strategy for making it happen.

For more information please visit:
http://www.coconuggets.net/

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor and ghostwriter, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

************
Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “House of Sand and Fog” by Andre Dubus III

May 1, 2014

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Editor’s Note: Roy E. Perry, the self-described “amateur philosopher of Nolensville,” wrote book reviews for “The Tennessean” and “Nashville Banner” for thirty years. He is a regular contributor to “Underground Nashville.”

BOOK REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY:

Andre Dubus III’s novel House of Sand and Fog (1999) was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for The National Book Award, and the basis for an Oscar-nominated motion picture.

The Boston Globe described the novel as “a page-turner with a beating heart.” The Washington Post Book World called it “Elegant and powerful . . . An unusual and volatile literary thriller.” And James Lee Burke (no mean novelist himself) wrote that it is “stunning….No one who reads this novel will ever forget it. I have never felt so strongly about the talent of a young writer in my life. House of Sand and Fog is one of the best American novels I’ve ever read.”

The bone of contention in this tale is a small hillside bungalow at 34 Bisgrove Street in the low-rent beach-town of Corona, California, south of San Francisco. A bureaucratic screw-up at the San MateoCounty tax office confuses the owner’s house for a house at 34 Biscove Street, whose owners were delinquent paying their taxes. This clerical incompetence leads to the owner’s being evicted from her house, which was sold at auction.

In the past, Kathy Nicolo Lazaro had been a cocaine addict who snorted “white snakes” and she still struggles (unsuccessfully) with alcoholism. Her husband has left her, and now she has lost the house that she inherited from her deceased father. With her life spiraling out of control, Kathy desperately struggles to hold on to the one thing she has left.

Genob Sarhang Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian Imperial Air Force, is now the legal owner of the house, which he has purchased at auction at one-third its value, planning to resell at a huge profit. Formerly he had been a man of wealth and power in Tehran, with the ear of the Shah himself. But when the 1979 revolution swept Iran, Behrani, his wife Nadereh, their daughter Soraya, and their son Esmail, are put on a death list and forced to flee the country.

The plot thickens when Deputy Sheriff Lester Victor Burdon, a married cop, falls head over heels in love with Kathy Nicolo, and several steamy encounters occur. Burdon, crossing far over the line, is determined, by hook or crook, to help Kathy recover her house. Their erotic liaison leads to a horrific climax reminiscent of Greek and Shakespearean tragedies.

If sad stories make you cry, avoid reading House of Sand and Fog. But if you’re looking for a powerful, well-written tale, this one is for you.

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

************
Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********
Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew